Interview with Kaylee Baldwin, Author of Six Days of Christmas

Six Days of ChristmasSix Days of Christmas: A Holiday Romance Novella is a wonderful Christmas story recently released by WUFC Author Kaylee Baldwin. When Natalie goes home with her best friend for Christmas, she expects plenty of quiet time to work on a winning ad so she can turn her dream internship into her dream job. Instead, she gets time-consuming Christmas festivities, a house full of children who seem to be multiplying, and Jimmy, her best friend’s brother—someone who makes her question everything she’s always thought she wanted.

Margaret: What inspired you to write about relationship break-ups in your story?

Kaylee: Christmas is the perfect day to believe that miracles can happen… even if it’s believing in something that seems impossible. Natalie’s story is a story about change. She’s the kind of person who has always known what she’s wanted in life, and she will work hard to make those dreams come true. In the beginning, she has everything she thinks she wants: the perfect boyfriend, the perfect internship, and a chance at the perfect job. But when she goes to her roommate’s family’s house for Christmas, everything starts to fall apart, and she has to learn what she REALLY wants in life.

Margaret: I loved the boisterous characters in Six Days of Christmas. Are their personality traits modeled from people you know?

Kaylee: Usually my characters have traits from people I know. Jimmy is a huge tease, and I took a lot of his personality traits from my husband and brothers-in-law. My husband’s family is the kind that if you have an embarrassing moment, they will remind you of it until you die. I absolutely love them, and their dynamic, and I thought they would be the perfect match for someone like Natalie, who needs to loosen up a bit.

Stan (the Christmas-crazy father in the story) isn’t modeled off of anyone specific, but he’s one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. Quirky and *this* close to crazy, but he is passionate about Christmas and his family (and mini figurines of Santa.)

Margaret: Tell us about the different holiday traditions you wrote about in the novella . . . are they from experiences you’ve had or did you research them out?

Kaylee: The traditions! I wish my family did these. I knew I wanted to write a story about a girl who discovers the spirit of Christmas (and falls in love) but I needed something more. Then one day, my husband and I were talking and he started telling me about a Christmas tradition in Mexico and it was a major “ah ha!” moment. I got online and spent weeks researching how different countries celebrate Christmas. It was fascinating! I could only choose six, though, and from there my story came together easier than any story I’ve ever written.

Margaret: That’s wonderful and sounds fun. What are you writing now? When might we expect to see it on the shelf.

Kaylee: Right now I am working on a short romantic story for the California Dreamin’ Timeless Romance Anthology collection that will be out in April.

Margaret: Thank you for visiting today. I look forward to reading the California Dreamin’ Timeless Romance Anthology next spring.

WUFC Announces New In-House Publishing

Words&Works-LogoWriters Unite to Fight Cancer has a new in-house publisher: Words and Works, a partnership between WUFC administrator Margaret L. Turley and WUFC author Kerry Blair. Words and Works will be publishing all future WUFC projects including the Cauldron of Love: Writers Unite to Fight Cancer Cookbook scheduled for release Winter 2015. Their first published book, Never Again by Martha Petronella van der Wal Larsen will be released later this week. NeverAgain_FCoverNever Again is a collection of short stories which are true experiences of a young girl in war-torn Holland. Martha Petronella van der Wal Larsen was born May 8th, 1933 the daughter of Jan van der Wal and Susanna Sophia Maria van der Wal Merks. She had just turned seven years old when the Second World War started. WWII ended shortly after her twelfth birthday.

NBTS Tulips Against Tumors

Tulips_EmailHeader_2013National Brain Tumor Society partners with EcoTulips once again for this year’s Tulips Against Tumors program. Each bulb planted will honor all those who have been affected by a brain tumor, and help raise awareness and critical funds for promising research across the United States. 50% of the funds raised through these EcoTulips bulb orders go directly to support the work of the National Brain Tumor Society.

Interview with YA Author of The Penny Project: Betsy Love

penny-project-coverBetsy Love just released her newest YA Novel: The Penny Project. Reading this brilliant story requires an abdominal binder to hold your sides in from laughing so hard plus mop and bucket to clean up the tears. Betsy has graciously answered some interview questions about writing.

Margaret: What writing skill do you feel is most important for authors with a YA audience? Explain.

BetsyThe most important thing to remember when writing for teens is that you need to speak their language. They tend to have a “lingo” all their own. When I write my YA novels I make sure that I read it to teens and get their feed back. I’ll ask them questions like, “How would a 17 year old guy say this?” The other thing is to read, read, read in the genre you’re writing in. That goes for Romance, Mystery, Historical as well as Young Adult.

MargaretWhich author/authors is/are your favorite/s to read and why?

Betsy: When I read Stargirl, I was so touched by Jerry Spinelli’s story and his writing that I knew one day I wanted to write a story like that, one that would have a huge impact for change. Margaret: Is there a particular experience you had that provided the inspiration for this novel? Please tell us about it.

Betsy: The Penny Project is indeed inspired by a true story. When I heard the story I knew I had to write a story around that premise. Many of the incidents in this book are taken from some of the “dumb” things kids have done. My model for Penelope is Spencer Moore, a young man I had as his 9th grade English teacher. (See the dedication in the front of the book). Spencer is truly an inspiration to all who know him.

Margaret: Of the three novels you’ve written which is your personal favorite and why?

Betsy: That’s a really hard question to answer. It’s like trying to pick out which one of your children you like the best. Each of my books has something unique that I love. For Identity it was the whole idea of mistaken identity (who doesn’t love Shakespeare’s mischief with such plots?). With Soulfire I had a passion for this particular story in the Book of Mormon. I love the strength of my main character to stand for what is right regardless of the “popular” beliefs. The Penny Project was a story that would NOT get out of my head until I put it to paper. Because I couldn’t get the story down fast enough, it only took me six weeks to write.

Margaret:  Tell us about your current WIP? Genre, when we can expect to see it on the shelf.

Betsy: I am such an eclectic writer! My next story is a YA Urban Fantasy. It’s nearly complete and you should see it out sometime in November. Thanks, Margaret for this delightful interview!

Margaret: It was my pleasureReaders can find more information about Betsy Love and her books on her website at http://www.betsylove.com and blog at http://betsyloveldsauthor.blogspot.com/.

Interview with Liz Adair: Author of the Spider Latham Series

TARP-CoverLiz Adair’s newest Spider Latham Mystery novel is: Trouble at Red Pueblo.  Liz flawlessly presents this contemporary western with beautiful prose, unforgettable characters and intriguing plot twists. Liz has graciously answered some questions about writing this tale.

Margaret: This story starts with the funeral for Spiders mother.  Laurie encourages Spider to get right to work on solving a new mystery. Have you found working or getting involved in a hobby has helped you deal with a loss?

Liz: Do you know, I didn’t plan that for Spider. At the end of Snakewater Affair his mother was deep into Alzheimer’s and had congestive heart failure. It was natural to start the next book in the series with her death. But when I finished this book, Trouble at the Red Pueblo, I could see that solving the mystery would have been therapeutic for both Spider and Laurie. As a matter of fact, I dealt with the loss of my mother by writing what turned out to be Counting the Cost. I never cried a tear, but I created a seven pound manuscript.

Margaret:  The love story in Counting the Cost is priceless. I’m so glad you worked through your grief and shared this intimate look at your family.  In Trouble at the Red Pueblo did your feelings about Jack change between Chapter Two and the end? Why?

Liz: My feelings did change, because at the beginning, I didn’t see the end. I didn’t know that Jack gave Amy a job and a home or that he did all the good works that he did. All I knew about him at first was that he was successful and irritating to Spider. And that he was a cowboy poet.

Margaret:  Who is your favorite character besides Spider and why?

Liz: Besides Spider, Karam is my favorite. I started out with a completely different idea of what he would be, but I’m delighted with how he turned out. I love him for his fearlessness. I remember studying Spanish—I minored in it in college and spent a summer in Mexico in a residency program to gain fluency. Conversing with native Mexicans was so uncomfortable; I was always afraid of making a mistake or of appearing foolish. But Karam is so bold and at the same time so teachable. I just love him.

Margaret: I found there were similar issues with European relatives who know King’s English, but get lost with American slang. You did a great job of adding humor with this element. Karam, a Palestinian Muslim, teaches American history.  What inspired you to create such an unlikely teacher?

Liz: My husband, Derrill, and I get these video programs called Great Courses. They’re college-level lectures, and we watch one every day during lunch. We were watching one on Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Empire, and the person teaching it had a British accent. The idea came to me then that it’s very common to have Western professors teaching Eastern history. Why not the other way around?

Margaret:   This novel tackles the issue of racial profiling. Tell us why you added this element.

Liz: I put Karam’s incident in the book because of a conversation that I had with a Palestinian friend who, when he traveled around America, never flew because of his experiences in airports. However, he said that going by bus was stressful, too. He had been hassled by police in bus stations because they thought he looked Hispanic and made him prove he wasn’t an illegal alien.

Margaret:  Who do you consider to be another hero in this book?

Liz: I think Jack may be a hero. In wanting to take care of Amy, he pushes himself beyond his physical capacity and reaps the consequences. That’s kind of funny, because in the beginning I didn’t see him in a hero’s mold.

Margaret: Thanks for visiting with us today. I look forward to reading more Spider Latham mysteries in the future.

Interview with Theresa Sneed author of Escape

EscapeWUFC author Theresa Sneed released her gripping suspense novel, ESCAPE  this month. Elizabeth doesn’t remember her past. Sheriff Malcolm Snyder finds her wandering the streets of Boston in a daze. He cruelly locks her in his cellar and keeps her captive for five gruesome years. One evening, she escapes with his truck, his money, and his five year old daughter, Sally. Theresa crafts a powerful mystery with unexpected twists that grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let it go, even with the word.

Margaret: Is there a particular event that inspired the writing of ESCAPE? Please tell us about it.

Theresa: Yes. The Fritzl case in Austria where a horrible man kept his daughter captive in his cellar for twenty-four years and fathered seven children by her. That story captivated my attention for the pure horror and shock of it.

Margaret:  Escape is titled as novel 1 in the Sandee Jae Series. I don’t remember seeing that name in the novel. Please explain and when do you anticipate volume 2 to be available for readers?

Theresa: I guess I need to change the series name, because it won’t make sense until the last book. In book three, we are introduced to Sandee Jae. She is the head writer for an online gossip column exclusive to women. If I told you more, it would be a huge spoiler, so better to just alter the series name.

Margaret: What is your favorite genre to write and why?

Theresa: My favorite genre to write is whatever I’m working on at the present. Right now, I’m working on a stand-alone, time-travel called the Salem Witch Haunt. It is about Bess North, a 17 year old student at Danvers High. Because she is the 7th great granddaughter of one of the women hanged as a witch in 1692, she is annoyed with all the media hype and tourism in her town, which used to be Salem Village. Losing her way in the woods, she stumbles upon a quaint, but antiquated village that she thinks is Amish. After the initial shock of discovering where she really is, Salem Village 1692, she sets out on a mission to save her grandmother from the gallows, only to put herself in grave danger.

I have thoroughly researched the historical characters and every possible theory about what happened in Salem Village in 1692. Salem Witch Haunt is a believable story steeped in suspense and intrigue with a touch of sweet romance.

My goal is to release it this Halloween, October 31, 2014, as Halloween, October 31, 2001 was the date that the state of Massachusetts exonerated my own grandmother, Susannah North Martin, 309 years after her hanging.

Margaret: WOW! What an intriguing family history! I look forward to reading Salem Witch Haunt this fall. Thank you for visiting with me and sharing  about what you are writing.

Theresa Sneed’s other published books include:

The No Angel Series: No Angel, Earthbound and Destiny.

Elias of Elderberry (Book 1 in the Sons of Elderberry series.)

 

Angela Morrison Talks about Writing Family History Inspired Fiction

An Ocean Atween UsAngela Morrison recently released the first book in her new series We Glovers: An Ocean Atween Us. She draws the reader in with authentic language and descriptions that are so realistic they make the reader want to wipe away the sweat and grime, yet hug and console Will. The narrative is set in the industrial age starting in Scotland, sailing across the Atlantic ocean, settling in Nova Scotia and trudging into Pennsylvania coal mines. Angela Morrison creates this YA historical drama using stories from her own family history. Will Glover’s story is a tale of first love and heartbreak, related in intimate, first person detail. Just as Will’s soul entwines around Lucie, the blooming pit village lass he’s always known and never truly seen, a mysterious stranger arrives at the pits with an offer Will’s father can’t refuse. Hardship, tragedy and broken hearts ensue.  Margaret:  In both your Taken by Storm Series and An Ocean Atween Us you write of violent storms while at sea. a.) Explain why you choose to use this symbolism / metaphor in your writing. b.) Share your personal experiences that inspired such realistic prose. Angela: I feel like in both these books the storms chose me! TAKEN BY STORM was inspired by a real hurricane. I was sitting in a dive boat off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico, wondering if the rain that was making me shiver would ever stop, when a fellow passenger told me that rain was the dregs of a hurricane that hit Belize the night before and killed a boat load of divers. That haunted me. I began asking myself, “What if?” and TAKEN BY STORM was the result. I had this very real storm to base the book on, so the metaphor of the storm Michael created in Leesie’s life was natural. For AN OCEAN ATWEEN US, the storm was also a reality the Glovers had to face. I wrote those actual chapters of danger, suffering, and death because my critique pal, Joelle, told me the Atlantic passage I was half-way through writing was incredibly boring and needed something to increase the drama and raise the stakes. “Somebody has to die!” she said. “They died by droves on those sailing ships.” She was right for the most part. The tragic voyages that came later in the 19th century with the mass exodus from Ireland were overcrowded and rife with disease. Living conditions were barbaric. There was no food. Water supplies were very limited or nonexistent. Yes, indeed, many perished. That is what readers expect. But, the Glovers were on a very different voyage. They were skilled laborers being imported at great expense by a well-funded company. I found no accounts of disease and starvation on the Maggie P. Other well-organized voyages I studied, like the Mormon emigrant ships, were remarkably free of deaths. I could have manufactured an epidemic, but it didn’t feel right. The Glover’s voyage, though, would be subject to storms. The North Atlantic was notorious. Sailing ships had to battle all the way against the prevailing trade winds. I found many first-hand accounts of what it is like battened-down in a tall ship’s hold during a storm. I drew on those true-life accounts to make Will’s experience as vivid and realistic as possible. Margaret: In An Ocean Atween Us the characters marry in their mid teens. Is this based on family or regional history? Angela: Both! I used the names and dates of births, marriages, and deaths from my family pedigree as the framework for the fictional story. I tried to stick as close as I could to the facts. Also, teen marriages were common practice at the time, especially for girls. Men in their thirties and even much older took teen-age brides, and no one thought anything of it–except, I think, the brides! I did make up Will’s younger brother’s relationship with Mallie Semple. Her family is fictional. Lucie, Will’s first love, is also my creation. Jennie, who comes along later in the novel, is from that pedigree chart. Of course, I had to fictionalize her, too. I fictionalized ALL the characters. (I hope the Glovers aren’t scowling down at me from heaven!) Margaret:  You mention that you spent over 10 years researching and writing this story. Please share some of the details with us. Angela: My grandmother and her mother were amazing family historians. I inherited the family group sheets, photographs, and family histories they collected. I grew up listening to my mother’s vivid bedtime stories about Granny Glover (Mither in AN OCEAN ATWEEN US) walking the Mormon trail with her grand-daughter, Sarah. When I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now expecting her first daughter, I took a family history writing course from BYU Independent Study. I began researching Kilmarnock, Scotland and 19th century coal-mining and wrote four chapters of a history of the Glover family. But I don’t write history. I write fiction. I kept researching and eventually entered a Master of Fine Arts in writing program. While working on my MFA, I wrote, TAKEN BY STORM. Then, in my final semester, I began writing AN OCEAN ATWEEN US  — at that time the working title was MY ONLY LOVE. I had the great good fortune of working with incredible mentors. That’s when the research became even more intense. I read everything I could get my hands on about 19th century Scotland, coal mining, and sailing ships. We were living in London, Ontario, Canada, and the local library system had a wide selection. (Half of Canada has Scottish roots.) I also had access to the University of Western Ontario’s library. I traveled to Nova Scotia and studied in the museum that sits on the site of the coal mine Will Glover helped dig. They kindly gave me access to their docent’s research library. I also took a trip to Pennsylvania’s coal country. We moved to Switzerland in 2004–just as I graduated with my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I kept researching, writing, and even dragged my family to coal mines and Robert Burns’ cottage in Scotland. I finished the first draft in 2005 and began marketing it to editors. One well-known editor wanted to see it again! I was so excited. I eventually revised it for her four times before she broke my heart and turned it down. In 2008, I sold TAKEN BY STORM, and this project had to go on the back-burner. When I finished my contract with Penguin in 2010, I came back to it, rewrote it again, and found a new agent who fell in love with it. She had some suggestions to improve the story flow. I polished it one more time, and then gave her my blessing to send it to editors. She failed to find it a home with New York publishers, so I bid her farewell and decided to stretch my indie wings again and publish it myself–which brings us to the book you hold in your hands or, rather, the ebook you downloaded to your Kindle! Margaret:  An Ocean Atween Us takes a bit to get used to the language – but it helps the reader experience authenticity. How difficult was it for you to write using Scots? Angela: I fell head-over-heels in love with Scots. Studying Robert Burns’ poetry in college was my first taste. My father-in-law grew up on an Alberta homestead in a household where Scots was the Mither tongue. He could speak in authentic Scots when he wanted to. That gave me another tidbit to savor. In 2004, when I was reading everything Scottish I could get my hands on, I found Rosemary Sutcliff’s BONNIE DUNDEE, which is written with a much heavier Scots dialect than I use. I read it over and over until I had to return it and eventually bought my own copy. I also discovered Vol. 1 of a CD collection of Robert Burn’s songs. I had no idea Robert Burns wrote songs. Twelve CDs worth! That was amazing because I could actually hear it. And Burns wrote within 50 years of Will Glover’s time. When we moved to Switzerland in 2004, I was supposed to be learning French, but I was too immersed in learning Scots for the French to stick. I created a bulletin board full of notecards, ordered all twelve volumes of Robert Burns CDs from the UK, and read a Scots/English dictionaries instead of novels. Then I found an amazing website, scots-online, that enlightened me even more. I got so into writing in Scots that I over did it and the dialect was too heavy. On the advice of several editor critiques, I went back through the manuscript and took out tons of dialect, only leaving the merest gloss and relying more on word choice to give the reader an authentic feel for Will. The text is now very understandable, and if you have a hankering for Scots, you’ll love it! Margaret:  When will book 2 in the We Glovers series be available to readers? Who will be the protagonist? Angela: The feisty Janie Ellen, Will’s baby sister, will narrate the next book. She is my great, great, great grandmother. She, too, got married when she was fifteen! Rather than make readers wait for the entire book to be finished, I want to involve you in the process. I will be posting the chapters as I draft them on my liv2writ blog and wattpad.com. Writing is a lonely business. The most satisfying creative experience I’ve ever had was when I wrote the third Michael and Leesie novel, CAYMAN SUMMER, online with readers daily input. I’d like to experience that again with WE, GLOVERS. I am in Switzerland, and my research for JANIE ELLEN is in Arizona! I will be back in September for an extended stay, so I plan to start writing JANIE ELLEN then. Follow me on wattpad, my blog, or like my Facebook page to get updates.

Free Books for Summer Reading

Silver-Moon-Cover-200x300YA Fantasy Author Cheree Alsop is celebrating the completion of the Silver Series #7: Silver Moon by holding a huge book giveaway. The 1st and 7th person to leave comments here on the WUFC Blog with contact information will be the lucky winners to receive free copies of the entire series. Here’s some great reading for the summer.

Free copies of Silver, Book #1 in the Silver Series can be obtained on Smashwords, Kindle or Nook.

Silver Moon, the seventh book in the Silver Series, is about Jaze as he fights to hold onto the peace he has achieved for the werewolves. Tensions rise, ultimatums are made, and Jaze is forced to make a decision that will change everything for werewolves, hunters, and humans alike. Hearts are broken, lives are forfeit, and Jaze’s pack is called upon to save those who survive.

Silver Moon is about sacrificing everything for love. With those he cares about on the line, Jaze’s courage, loyalty, and leadership are put to the ultimate test.

Jaze Carso gives us the scoop:

“Werewolves hide among you; it’s a secret we have fought for centuries to keep. We were almost wiped out once, and know better than to let the secret out again. But just like humans, werewolves are impulsive and sometimes uncontrollable. That’s where I come in. My job is to protect the werewolves and help them live full and happy lives. There are Hunters and others who don’t believe werewolves have rights and should be hunted and exterminated like animals. I’ve done what I can to smooth Hunter-werewolf relations, but extremists, fighting rings, and covert agencies feel that the fate of werewolves should be to die, be forced to fight for the entertainment of humans who watch the mutilation and bloodshed like it’s a sport, or be experimented upon to unlock the secrets of our superior strength and increased healing capabilities. [Read more…]

Eden Literary Author-Publisher Services

Eden Literary was founded in 2011 by Deirdra Eden. She started the company designing book covers and illustrations. Since the beginning, her goal has been to provide affordable and quality literary services to authors.

Today, Eden Literary has expanded to serve both authors and publishers nationwide. As the literary industry has changed, new team members have join Eden Literary to offer a wider variety of services for all kinds of authors and publishers.

eden literary

Deirdra Eden and her husband Nathan Boyd sponsored and organized Kick-a-thon / WUFC fundraiser featuring several local authors held in Provo in August 2012. Deirdra also provided the cover art for The Drive to Thrive Anthology. 

Brain Tumor Awareness Month

BrainTumorAwarenessMonthToday nearly 700,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor, and more than 69,000 others will be diagnosed this year. Brain tumors are often deadly, impact quality of life, and change everything for patients and their loved ones.

My daughter is currently battling her second brain tumor.  After completing six weeks of radiation followed by a year of Temodar (oral chemotherapy most effective for brain tumors) her MRI showed a new brain tumor developed in addition to the original tumor only being reduced by 50%. She is a warrior and is determined to win the war against this invasion of her body that causes frightening seizures and periods of disorientation with memory loss. She is a very intelligent young woman in her early thirties. It was devastating to see her reduced to an infantile state, not knowing how to do basic daily activities. With excellent care from a neuro-surgeon, naturopathic oncologist, neuro-oncologist, epileptologist, neuro-radiologist, speech therapist, counselor and support groups plus other medical team members, family and numerous friends she was able to regain her memory and speech.

Treatment for the new tumor so far includes an intense radiation called stereotactic radiosurgery, a surgically implanted central venous port for the administration of intravenous chemotherapy, and she receives IV Avastin every two weeks. When she was first diagnosed she had no insurance. After several months she qualified for the PCIP, Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan . Now she has insurance coverage through her spouse’s employer. Thanks to a multitude of people who have held fundraisers, others who have given monetary and service donations  and frugal habits have prevented my daughter from experience bankruptcy so far. Ongoing labs, diagnostic procedures, medications and treatment continue to accumulate costs such as travel to and from appointments, co-pays, deductibles and multiple items not covered by insurance.

All brain tumor patients face the same challenges. Not all have necessary resources. It is important to  increase public awareness of the need for improved treatment, better quality of life and access to care.

Please consider donating to one of the following brain tumor research, education and / or service organizations during May – Brain Tumor Awareness Month:

American Brain Tumor Association

Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation

National Brain Tumor Society